- Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute
Our Teleforum previewed the oral argument in the Supreme Court in Evenwel v. Abbott. What is meant, precisely, by the term “one person, one vote”? What are its implications for apportioning legislative districts? Does the Equal Protection Clause allow States to use total population, or does it require States to use voter population, when apportioning its legislative districts? What are the best arguments to be made by each side? These and other questions were addressed as we previewed one of the most talked-about cases of the Term.
At issue in Evenwel v. Abbott, argued on December 8, is whether the three-judge district court correctly held that the “one person, one vote” principle under the Equal Protection Clause allows States to use total population, and does not require States to use voter population, when apportioning state legislative districts. Must each voter’s vote count equally and, if so, how is that to be accomplished? Does the scheme under consideration dilute the votes of certain people and, if so, how are their interests to be balanced against the goal of attaining majority-minority districts? What level of judicial scrutiny will be applied in this case? How does this case differ from Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission? Andrew Grossman attended the oral arguments and offered his impressions and predictions on a Courthouse Steps Teleforum conference call. His piece "Evenwel v. Abbott: What Does One Person, One Vote Really Mean?" is valuable background reading on this critical case.
On March 25, 2015 the Supreme Court decided Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, which was consolidated with Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama.
These cases ask whether Alabama's 2012 legislative redistricting plans classify black voters by race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge federal district court rejected plaintiffs’ challenge to the redistricting plan. By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court vacated that decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court determined that the district court made four key errors: (1) treating the racial gerrymandering claim as referring to the State “as a whole,” rather than district-by-district; (2) finding that the Alabama Democratic Conference lacked standing.; (3) improperly calculating “predominance” in the alternative holding that “[r]ace was not the predominant motivating factor” in the creation of any of the challenged districts; and (4) concluding that “the [challenged] Districts would satisfy strict scrutiny.”
Justice Breyer's opinion for the Court was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Scalia filed a dissent, which was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito. Justice Thomas also filed a separate dissent.
To discuss the case, we have Stephen Davis, who is an associate at the Washington, D.C. office of Arent Fox.
On November 12, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, which was consolidated with Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama.
These cases ask whether Alabama's legislative redistricting plans classify black voters by race, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, by intentionally packing them into districts designed to maintain supermajority percentages produced when 2010 census data are applied to the 2001 majority-black districts.
To discuss the case, we have Mark Braden, who is Of Counsel at Baker & Hostetler.